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Cubs Weekly Recap: June 10 Through June 16

After a rough start to the week, the Cubs managed a 3-4 week thanks to great starting pitching over the weekend.

Jim McIsaac

The Cubs went 3-4 last week. The team salvaged the last game of its series against the Reds, and won two of three against the Mets. The Cubs currently sit in fourth place -- the team is half a game ahead of the Brewers and fifteen games behind the Cardinals.

Runs Scored: 25 | Runs Scored per Game: 3.57 | Runs Allowed: 34 | Runs Allowed per Game: 4.86

Competition Adjusted Runs Scored: 0.84 | Competition Adjusted Runs Allowed: 1.11

The Cubs were 16% worse than the average offense and 11% worse than the average pitching staff. The offense struggled mightily against the Reds -- the majors' sixth-best pitching staff. The starting staff struggled against the Reds' potent lineup, while the bullpen -- Carlos Marmol -- couldn't close out the Mets on Sunday.

Cubs starters pitched 44 of the 68 innings played this week, or 65% of the innings pitched, which is down from last week's 71%, and lower than the major league average of approximately 69%.

The Three Most Important Plays

6/16 Bot 9, man at 2nd and 3rd with one out, 3-1 Cubs: Kirk Nieuwenhuis hits a walk-off home run off Carlos Marmol, resulting in a -.731 WPA. The Cubs had a 73.1% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 0.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

6/12 Bot 14, men at 1st and 3rd with two outs, 5-5 Tie: Julio Borbon hits a walk-off single off Jonathan Broxton, resulting in a .365 WPA. The Cubs had a 63.5% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 100.0% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

6/12 Bot 8, men at 1st and 2nd base with two outs, 5-4 Reds: Darwin Barney singles off Sam LeCure to tie the game, resulting in a .327 WPA. The Cubs had a 27.9% chance of winning the game prior to his at bat, and a 60.6% chance of winning the game after his at bat.

Most Valuable Cub Hitter

Nate Schierholtz: Schierholtz had one of the best weeks by a Cub hitter thus far. His one-week OPS is the highest by a Cub with more than 10 at bats. In a four-game stretch -- June 12 through June 15 -- Schierholtz recorded a double, two triples, and two home runs.

After several years of mediocrity with the Giants, and a quick stop in Philadelphia, Schierholtz has thus far put together his best season. His .379 wOBA is a career-high, and is the 10th highest wOBA by an outfielder in the majors. Schierholtz's power seems to be the main reason for this career-best season: his .564 SLG is well above his career .428 SLG, and his .268 ISO is significantly higher than his career ISO of .155.1 His abnormally high HR/FB rate could be the cause. Schierholtz's 17.6% HR/FB rate is well above his career 7.7% rate. While some of his previous performance could be a result of AT&T Park's dimensions -- the right field wall can make hitting home runs difficult for lefties -- some of it is likely luck. ZiPS expects Schierholtz to post a .191 ISO for the rest of the season, and for him to end up with a 1.9 WAR season; not bad for $2.2 million. Schierholtz is only 29, and could be a fourth outfielder on a much better Cubs team in the near future.

Most Valuable Cub Pitchers

Hector Rondon, Blake Parker, and Kevin Gregg: These three combined to pitch 13 innings this past week while only surrendering one run during this stretch. Rondon and Parker have pitched less than 25 innings in the majors, so it is difficult to draw any meaningful conclusions unitl they rack up more innings. Gregg, on the other hand, has a very large data set that we can draw from.

Gregg is having a resurgent season as his 0.83/2.41/3.18 ERA/FIP/xFIP line is by far the best of his career. He's striking batters out at a career-high rate of 27.9% and walking only 8.1% of the batters that he has faced, both of which are better than his career-rate (21.2 K% and 10.3 BB%). That said, he's getting help from lady luck -- his BABIP, LOB%, and HR/FB rate all significantly deviate from his career numbers. His BABIP is much lower (.241 in 2013 versus .290 in his career ), his LOB% is much higher (91.8% in 2013 versus 73.1% in his career), and his HR/FB is unsustainably low (4.8% in 2013 versus 8.6% in his career). As these numbers regress to the mean, Gregg's results will get worse, but if his K% and BB% improvements are legitimate, then he could serve as a capable reliever over the next couple of years.

Least Valuable Cub Hitter

Alfonso Soriano: We've yet to see one of Soriano's patented hot streaks, and while we haven't really hit the summer months in Chicago yet, the longer it takes for Soriano to put one of those streaks together, the less likely it seems it will happen. Soriano is 37 years old and the drop in his ISO from .237 last year to .147 this year could signal the end of his time as a slugger. One could point to his rough 2009 season and then to the three years following that during which he posted healthy power numbers. The main difference there is that Soriano was three years younger. A poor offensive season for a 34-year-old slugger is much more likely to be followed up by a resurgent season his next year than is a poor offensive season for a 37-year-old slugger.

Furthermore, Soriano is walking at a nearly career-low rate (3.5%), and is thus currently sitting at a sub-.300 OBP. At this stage in the season, it looks like Soriano's 2012 was his last hurrah -- it's unlikely that a team will come calling at the deadline.

Least Valuable Cub Pitcher

Carlos Marmol: In his post game comments yesterday, Sveum said, "We've come to find out that he has trouble with the last three outs. But somebody has to pitch the other innings, and he's done a pretty good job in that role." There could be truth to the fact that Marmol just can't handle the pressure. Of the 26innings that he has pitched as a reliever this year, Marmol has pitched 14 of them in low leverage situations, 4 of them in medium leverage situations, and 7⅓ of them in high leverage situations.2 Opponents have posted wOBAs of .309, .419, and .490 in those three situations, respectively, against Marmol.

While the ninth inning of a 3-0 game isn't exactly a high leverage situation, the pressure of getting the last three outs could have the same psychological effect on Marmol as a high leverage situation. While it's unfortunate that Gregg was out yesterday, Sveum may have had a better chance putting almost anyone else from his bullpen out there in the ninth. I'm fine with Sveum putting Marmol out there in a low leverage situation, but I don't want to see Marmol in any other situation aside from that one.

Up Next

The Cubs head to St. Louis for four games against the Cardinals before coming home to play a three-game set against the Astros.

1 Isolated Power

2 Leverage